N and I moved to a new place. It is a palace. The ceilings are tall. Tall enough for Stalin to tsk at. There is a park nearby; a garden, really.

We walk past a man picking something out of the nose of his sleeping girlfriend. There are fountains, big ones. The water is clear through to the chessboard looking seabed. It reminds me of Alice and Wonderland.

We find a bench clean of nose-pickers. N sighs.

“What’s up?” I ask.

He shrugs. “You know those days where music doesn’t sound a bit like music? Even songs–loved ones–they just sound like, like…”

I wait. Finally, “like?”

He screws up his face a bit. “Bird shit,” he decides.

“Bird shit?”

“Yeah, bird shit.”


“You know?”

“I guess.” I frown. “You just seemed on your way to something a bit more–um–profound.”

“Yeah,” he sighs. “It’s just one of those days.” He glares at a young girl snapping a selfie beside the fountain. Beside me, I hear a sound, like a sob. I turn. A statue looks back at me, placid.

I take out my cigarettes and hold the pack out to N.

“Quitting, remember?”

“Ah, right,” I say, lighting one for me. He holds out his hand, I pass it over. We watch as another woman, younger, a young-woman, stops. She pulls out her iPhone. The first selfie is rubbish, apparently. She takes a few more.

I hear the sound again. This time it doesn’t stop. I turn. The statue is openly weeping.

“Why?” it whines. It is grinding it’s teeth, sand dusting onto its bottom lip.

I wave my hand in front of the statue’s face. It is a woman. One breast is out.

“Hey? You alright?” I ask. The statue looks at me.

“Why do they do it?” she wails.

I frown, looking behind me for the culprit. Two twelve year olds are taking a dual selfie in front of a bush of purple flowers. I look back to the statue. It is almost inconsolable.

“Sh-sh,” I try. N, still smoking, has a confused look.

“What is wrong?” he asks the statue.

“Everyone has lost hope! How could they do it to themselves!” the statue groans. I look to N. He shrugs.

“What?” I ask the statue.

“There!” the statue cries, motioning with her eyebrows, arm-less.

I look. A man now has stopped in front of the fountain. He has a selfie-stick. He gets the shot he wants, he plods off. Both N and I turn back to the statue, N holding my cigarette next to his lips.

“They are just taking pictures?” I say.

“I know!” the statue says, “why would they give up their souls! Has the world become so hopeless?”

I shake my head. “What are you talking about!” I demand.

The statue’s blank eyes go wide. “You don’t know?”

“Know what?” I growl, getting annoyed.

The statue looks horrified. “Taking your own picture destroys a bit of your soul! Piece by piece it fades away! Surely, you must know!”

Both N and I stay silent, waiting for the punch-line. The Statue’s mouth falls open. She cries out, “THEY DON’T KNOW!”

“What!” a voice calls from the other side of the fountain. I look over. A male statue is frowning at us.

“THEY DON’T KNOW!” our statue cries. The statue across gasps. We can hear it from where we sit.

“Oh dear God!” it cries. A girl, who can’t be more than twelve, passes. She looks up at the statue.

“Look, Mom! A talking statue!” she calls. She pulls out her phone and snaps a picture of her, her mother, and the weeping stone man.

“No! You poor child! Stop!”

The mom frowns at the phone. “Take another one,” she says, fixing her hair. As she does, both statues are crying out in protest, it hurts the ears.

“Geez,” says N, snubbing out the cigarette. “Wanna get out of here?”

I nod, holding my ears. When we get back to the path we notice that all the garden statues have heard the news. They are passing it on through the park.

“They don’t know!”

“They don’t know!”

“They don’t know!”


A Writer and an artist living in Russia

30 Comment on “The Secret of the Selfie Stick

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